Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Future

MPAA (R)  Roger Ebert (3 1/2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
Roger Ebert's review

The Future (written, directed and co-staring Miranda July) is an excellent, simple independent film about an utterly average young adult couple Sophie (played by Miranda July) and Jason (played by Hamish Linklater) living somewhere in an utterly non-descript apartment somewhere in or around Los Angeles. 

At the beginning of the movie, the two had found a stray cat with a wounded front paw.  They took it to an animal shelter where a cast is put on the paw, but the are told by the animal shelter that rather than adopting it immediately and taking it home, they must leave the cat at the shelter for 30 days so that the paw would heal and that the animal shelter could treat the cat for other possible/probable diseases that it could be carrying. 

So for the first time in apparently a long time, the two Jason and Sophie have a goal: preparing their home for the coming of a pet cat 30 days hence.  This sends them off on a truly _remarkable_ set of reflections on the meaning of time, the future and consequences of one’s actions (in time).

I do not want to ruin these reflections who wishes to see the film, but I do want to give an example:

In the course of the month that follows, the two find themselves at a point of possibly breaking up (after 4 years of being together).  It’s in the middle of the night, a little after three in the morning.  Sophie, who can’t sleep, wakes Jason up telling him that she has something she has to tell him.  He quickly discerns from her tone and bodylanguage, what she’s going to say, and desperately wants to "stop time" before she says it.  So he does ... stop time.  He touches her head with his outstretched arm and stops her and the entire world in its tracks.  There’s just him on his knees with his outstretched hand, her frozen motionless on her knees facing him and the moon shining through the window into their apartment. 

After some time, the moon starts talking to Jason: “Your arm’s going to get tired.  Eventually you’re going to have to put it down.”  The moon is right.  Jason’s arm is getting tired, so he quickly switches his arms. “Okay, you bought yourself a little more time, but eventually both your arms are going to get tired and you're going to have to put them down.   Now according to the clock, it’s 3:14 AM, why do you want to stop time at this moment forever?”
    “Because if I put my arm down, I know what will happen at 3:15 AM.”
    “But maybe it won’t happen.”
    “But it will.”
So Jason keeps time “frozen” at that moment, 3:14 AM, on that day for a _long, long time_, because he simply can’t bear what is coming at 3:15.  There are about 5-6 other situations/reflections like this one in the film.

Appropriately rated, it's actually a "weak R" (fleeting back-side female nudity at one point).  Still the young couple is living together presumably without being married and cheating/possible adultery is contemplated/pursued.  More to the point, pre-teens wouldn't get this movie and a high schooler would probably get a bad example from the young adult couple's largely boring if unmarried living arrangement.  

But I would definitely recommend it TO YOUNG ADULTS and really to _any adult_ who’s ever loved a good story or parable, or who’s ever spent some time over the years _awake_ wondering, honestly, “what’s it all about?”

To close, I’d like to offer two other suggestions for reflection that I believe carry a similar sentiment as that expressed in the film.  The first is a song from my young adult years, Supertramp’s Logical Song.     The second is a famous Biblical story about Jacob, who fearing what will come at daybreak finds himself wrestling all night with an unknown stranger in the desert. At the end of the night, Jacob receives a new and (what turns out to be) very important name (Genesis 32).

And as an addendum, come Oscar season this winter, I'd like to see The Future along with another indie-film Another Earth, get consideration for "best original screenplay" nominations and perhaps (one or the other, but more so _this one_ than the other) consideration for "best picture."  Yes, I do believe that both films are that good.

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